This chapter analyzes two approaches to determining whether a non-international armed conflict exists and who are the parties to such a conflict. These approaches were put forward by the International Committee of the Red Cross in its 2019 Challenges Report. The first is referred to as the ‘cumulative approach’. It consists of aggregating the armed violence in which two or more armed groups that cooperate and coordinate as part of an alliance or coalition are involved for the purpose of assessing the level of intensity of armed violence that is required for the existence of a non-international armed conflict. The chapter submits that this approach deserves broad acceptance. Three adaptations to the approach are however proposed for reasons of logic and to avoid over-application of international humanitarian law. The other approach is referred to as the ‘support-based approach’. Under this approach, an armed group that provides certain support to another armed group that is party to a pre-existing non-international armed conflict becomes a party to that conflict as a consequence of that support. This chapter argues that the application of the support-based approach to armed groups inter se is problematic for a number of reasons and should be rejected.
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